According to court documents, on November 1, 2021, Bess was working as a sergeant at the Erie County Jail. During the booking process of a new arrestee, Bess placed his hand around the inmate’s throat in anger in a “choke hold” and caused the inmate to have difficulty breathing. Bess’ actions were without justification and in violation of both the Erie County Sheriff’s Office use of force policy as well as federal law. After being released from jail, the inmate had visible bruising on her neck, immediately reported the matter to the command staff at Erie County Sheriff’s Office, and went to the hospital for evaluation of her injuries. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office promptly reported the matter to the FBI and placed Bess on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Bess subsequently resigned.
As a result of Bess’ federal felony conviction, he can no longer work in law enforcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI Cleveland Division, Sandusky Resident Agency, and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Freeman and Tracey Tangeman.